Day 49 – Malda to Kurseong

I was in striking distance to the Himalayas again. Siliguri, at the base of the mountains was about 250 kilometers away. I could get there by about 2 in the afternoon and reach Darjeeling by evening. It was a good prospect.

As usual, I left when it was already 10 am. Can’t do much about waking up early. No point whining about it. There was a whoosing sound in the bike. Every cycle at the exhaust stroke, it seemed like there was air from the engine escaping from some other place other than the exhaust pipe. The bike had lost power delivery seriously. Accleration was very subdued and I couldn’t go beyond 80 no matter how much I pushed. I stopped to look. Couldn’t find anything. Too bad.

I pressed on but obviously speed had dropped. The road wasn’t getting any better and the pounding on the shock absorbers and the bike frame continued. I kept wondering what was causing the problem, whether it could become more serious and why on earth they call this a road. None of my questions answered, I trundled on. Cities came and went and the bike just kept going on and on with the same feeling. The sort that one gets when walking on mountians. Breathlessness.

Thankfully the Golden Quadrilateral came and the pounding stopped. Relieved, I stopped at a dhaba for a cup of tea. As I dismounted, I saw the problem. The pipe connecting the air filter to the engine was disconnected. Out completely. That explained it. The casing was out of its place, the nut holding it in place out of its own place. Probably something to do with the pounding. Anyway, problem taken care of. The bike felt like itself again. Full power back. Full power on. Then the highway got over. Siliguri was approaching. It was 4 pm.

Then I saw it. The one sight that gets me going like nothing else. Mountains. The Himalayas were visible now. It was like aphrodisiac. Like steroids. Adrenaline started pumping. I was there. Next to the toy train station, there was a flat black stretch for about 2 kilometers. I went upto 120 kmph. It felt great. The air was already getting cold. I was loving it.

I rode towards Darjeeling. Lovely but narrow roads snaking up the heavily forested mountain. Constantly accompanied by the toy train tracks, the road was a delight. It was getting dark but I wasn’t worried. There had been a lot of trouble in this region about a month or so back but none of that was on my mind. I was ready to face anything. I stopped at a small place for some tea. A couple came in later with a very very young kid in tow. Business as usual. Except it wasn’t.

I took my tea outside with my smoke (I don’t smoke around kids. Strictly.). The husband came out and asked if I was from Maharashtra. I said yes. He asked if I was doing an India tour. I said yes. Then he said almost matter of factly, I have done that four times. My eyes widened. Thats four with a capital F. And he was ready with a world tour in about a month or so. My jaw dropped. Sanjay Paul. This was the first time I had actually met someone who had done such things. And it was good. He went on to tell me about his earlier national trips and his plans. He invited me over to his place in Siliguri which I promised I will do when I am returning. Do such meetings actually happen? Well one just happened. This was great.

In any case, I did not go to Darjeeling. On Sanjay’s advice, I stopped at Kurseong, about 30 kilometers from Darjeeling. Just like any other small mountain town, Kurseong was cute. But not much to do. Someone told me there was a cultural program in the town that night. Well, this couldn’t be so bad. So I headed there.

There were a lot of people. A lot of them.

From Earning My Quarter Mile

There was singing.

From Earning My Quarter Mile

And dancing.

From Earning My Quarter Mile

Even a rock band.

From Earning My Quarter Mile

I caught hold of the singer and talked to him about him, the place and the troubles in the area. You see there is this demand by the people of the area for a separate state since they have been neglected by the current situation.

From Earning My Quarter Mile

But the highlight of the evening for me was the betting. Needless to say, these stalls attracted the most crowds. Pretty simple game. 6 different symbols (like cards) and six dice. You bet any amount on any number of symbols. Dice are rolled. If your symbol comes up on more than one die, you get that multiple of your money. Else it goes into the kitty. So if you bet 100 bucks on hearts and if three hearts turn up on the dice, you win 300. Simple. I bet 10 bucks. And lost.

From Earning My Quarter Mile
From Earning My Quarter Mile

Leaving the day with this thought.

From Earning My Quarter Mile

It reads:
Where there is truth, there is love.
Where there is love, there is peace.
Where there is peace, there is non-violence.
Where there is non-violence, there is God.
Where there is God, there is victory.

Long live the old man.

2 Responses to “Day 49 – Malda to Kurseong”
  1. CMT says:

    It must not be feeling the same india way there in the east… it i so different from what one sees in maharashtra or punjab… keep going dude…we are reading…

  2. nice post taklu. very evocative 🙂

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